Sahara: Vatican condemns political exploitation of Pope’s pictures with Sahrawi children

The Vatican on Saturday condemned “the political exploitation” of pictures taken at the Holy See in Rome showing Pope Francis with Sahrawi children, ensuring that the Vatican’s position on the Sahara has not changed.

“The position of the Holy See on the issue of the Sahara has not changed,” said the official representation of the Vatican in Rabat. The Vatican representation wanted to “set the record straight” while condemning the “political use” of the photos circulated by several pro-Polisario media.

The Apostolic Nunciature in Morocco recalled in a statement sent Saturday (August 11) to the news agency MAP that “the weekly audiences that the Holy Father gives to pilgrims from all over the world are exclusively of “pastoral nature and have no political connotation”.

Several Algerian and Italian media as well as pro-Polisario outlets had published inaccurate or fragmentary information and photos showing the Pope blessing children presented as Sahrawis.

The malicious manipulation of the photos, concocted surely in Algiers and Tindouf, infuriated the Holy See, especially that the incident occurs at the time when Pope Francis is expected soon in Morocco, for an official visit. This would be the first visit by a Pope to Morocco since the one undertaken about 33 years ago by the late Pope John Paul II.

The visit was announced last May by the honorary consul of the Kingdom in Bari (Italy), Vincenzo Abbinante, who said that Pope Francis was planning to pay an official visit to Morocco in “the coming months”.

This time, it is the Vatican that dealt another blow to the Polisario, which has suffered several political and diplomatic setbacks, despite the unconditional support of the Algerian diplomatic machine.

Having lost many diplomatic battles at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, in the European Union in Brussels and Strasbourg and in Africa, Polisario leaders are now maneuvering to improve their image and calm down the boiling Tindouf camps populations.

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